To support improved communication, clinical workflow and more effective transfers of care, NHS England directed that from October 2015 secure fax would no longer be permitted for sending discharge summaries to GPs from NHS Trusts. Organisations were encouraged to adopt either secure email or direct electronic transmission to send and receive all discharge summaries.
With over 160,000 inpatients being discharged to over 130 GP practices every year, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust took the opportunity to review the complete Immediate Discharge Summary (IDS) process, including postal deliveries.
The paper based approach to communicating discharge information challenged timely access to up-to-date patient information, both within and external to the Trust. This had a negative impact on:
- staff experience and efficiency
- patient experience and safety
- trust finances, with fines associated with the 24 hour target of GPs receiving the IDS not being met